“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.”
– Devendra Varma, The Gothic Flame
People often ask me about my ex-husband – and then are horrified and wish that they hadn’t asked; and in all honesty I think about “Mr. Americano” quite often, too. Even now – almost fifteen years later, when I think about my ex-husband I must admit that I have the tendency also: to become horrified by my own recollections. I feel horrified by the realities that swim like invisible, but heavy sea-lions around my life. I can get overwhelmed with horror and shock when I recount my own history – many of the people embedded in my past, included.
Horror, so they say, is a safe place to look at ugliness from…a fortress existing in a time and place after the awful experience of one’s recollections.
Terror, they claim, is the anticipation and knowledge – of expectation of the horror to come, the dread and anxiety attached to fearful emotions prior to the awful memory. Terror is no longer allowed here, so that horse is dead and buried for me. I can honestly say that today, here and now, in the present moment – I could stand in front my ex with no weapon on my hip or big brother behind me – and regardless of the circumstances or outcome – terror would not have a place in my perspective of it. I have forgiven Mr. Americano for what he did to me, truly. He is a product of his own horror-filled environment, like the rest of us, and I pity him for being a monster. He doesn’t want to be, but he is. Sucks to be him…
So I run with that theory;
…and I said, “fuck it”: Then I proceeded to let the horror out – however, wherever, whenever – I can.
Turns out, my best type of “therapy”, always came naturally and in its most raw and pure forms when I was mothering my child on my own, as a single parent to a Hellion with the face of an angel and the voice sounding like it originated from a helium tank. I was “yard duty” at her school; I was “classroom Mom”; I brought fuckloads of craft shit to her classroom every Mother’s Day and would spend weeks with the kids, making stuff for moms and stepmoms, grandmas and surrogates. On April fool’s Day when Boo was in elementary school still, I went into her class and instructed thirty-seven 9 year olds how to dump glitter and glue all over the carpet (the carpets were being torn out that evening and replaced, and the teacher was in on it with me) but damn, the kids all loved it and even now – once in a while, I’ll bump into one of my daughter’s grown up schoolmates – they always tell me nice things they remember about me from back then. The horror here is definitely in retrospect, indeed from a safe place – years away from the memories of which I am describing – realizing that my own kid surely doesn’t have those nice things to say about me, certainly doesn’t even have the ability to recall such minor details of the childhood stolen away from her so long ago. Horror is definitely what I feel when I realize her losses; when I admit to myself: the role that I play in the movies on her mental reel; when I imagine how she must perceive me in stark contrast to who I am and always have been. Horror comes along with every fleeting thought, miniscule in its own right, of my deepest, most embittered fear:
That despite my stand against her father and the reconstructed existences for me and Boo in a safe place, the Horror that haunts Boo, in her case, confines her to an existence – most unsafe.
Regardless of how much I work at re-wiring my brain into that of a non-hostage’s, to remold myself into living within a freedom-based state-of-being and thinking; as strong as I may be when it comes to standing my ground atop the things that I believe are rightful and just – there is one element that I still can’t truthfully say that I’ve recovered from my ex-husband’s former lair inside of my head –Horror.